Tirne is one of four humans rigorously selected to usher the turn of the seasons into the mortal world. Every year, she escorts the taciturn god Autumn between the godly and human realms. Autumn’s seasonal stay among mortals brings cooler weather, changing leaves, and the harvest of apples and gourds until Winter takes his place.
This year, the enchanted Mirror that separates their worlds shatters after Tirne and Autumn pass through, trapping both of them in the human realm. As the endless autumn stretches on, crops begin to fail and the threat of starvation looms. Away from the magic of the gods’ home, Tirne’s debilitating headaches return with a vengeance. Worse, Autumn’s extended stay in the human realm turns him ever more mortal and vulnerable, stirring a new, forbidden attraction to Tirne.
While the priesthood scrambles to find a way to reassemble the Mirror, Tirne digs into the temple’s secrets and finds an unlikely ally—or enemy—in the enigmatic sorcerer and master of poisons, Sidriel. Thrown into a world of mystery, betrayal, and espionage as she searches for the truth, might Tirne lose her morals, her hard-earned position, and the illicit spark between her and Autumn?"
The Longest Autumn has a very promising premise that centers around the idea of the gods of each season visiting the mortal realm with the turn of each season, something feels very reminiscent of a Hades and Persephone style. Each god has a human who is chosen to escort them between the mortal and godly realms. In The Longest Autumn, everything is thrown awry when what is essentially the portal between the two worlds is broken and the god Autumn and his assigned human, Tirne, are trapped in the mortal realm, thus creating an ongoing autumn season that slowly begins to wreak havoc upon the human world. Tirne takes it upon herself to try to figure out how–or who–broke the mirror, but often finds herself struggling to continue with any of her duties due to the many intense headaches she is constantly plagued by.
I really thought I'd love this and had really hopes for it, and although all the components were there for a great story, it unfortunately didn't end up working out quite right for me. There's a lot of buildup within the world and the general plot, but so much of it just completely dropped off and petered out as the story went on.
I found the world-building interesting, but confusing. I loved the concept of the seasons as gods and how that entire setup was developed, but something about it's overall execution made it feel almost more like a sort of prop, like the background stage set in a play, if that makes sense. The story was also incredibly slow paced, and not in a way that I typically wouldn't mind. It was slow in the way that nothing was happening, and when things did happen they weren't that exciting and didn't ever feel like things that would typically encourage me to keep reading a story. I kept hoping this book would redeem itself at some point, which is largely why I kept reading, but it just never really did.
Tirne also unfortunately wasn't that interesting of a character to follow. I was initially really drawn to her drive and commitment to her role as the chosen mortal for Autumn, but outside of that I didn't find her all that compelling. Everything about her investigations began to feel repetitive and didn't seem to offer much outside of simply moving the plot forward.
However, one thing I did really like about Tirne was that the author showed her struggling with a chronic ailment–her headaches–that really reflected what it's like to try to live everyday in pain, and I think she executed it with an authenticity that I really appreciated. I think this is great representation and added an element of conflict that didn't have to revolve around other characters, but rather one that centers around something person to Tirne as she fights to navigate her life while plagued by something that makes everything else that much more difficult.
There is romance in this, but I personally found it rather poorly done. None of it seemed natural or fitting the flow of the story, and all the different romantic entanglements that existed felt very clunky, confusing, and oddly timed. I really wish I could get into more specifics because I have some thoughts about certain things, but in order to avoid spoilers I will refrain from doing so. I wish there had just been more development with regard to certain pairings, as individual characters had some individual development, but nothing that was strong enough to make me really think it translated into a romantic relationship.
The best part of this book is the writing, and that is clearly what Amy Avery most excels at. Her prose is beautiful and flowing and is probably a large part of what made me continue reading. Even though the plot and pacing wasn't working for me, I still found myself just a little enamored with her poetic prose and ability to make everything sound so beautiful and effortless at the same time.
Overall, I've given The Longest Autumn three stars. I debated on lower, but I do think this book has enough redeeming qualities to keep it at a three. I'm so curious to hear others' thoughts, so if you've read this or plan to read it, do let me know!
*I received a copy of The Longest Autumn in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*